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Davies, C, Constable C.  2017.  Geomagnetic spikes on the core-mantle boundary. Nature Communications. 8   10.1038/ncomms15593   AbstractWebsite

Extreme variations of Earth's magnetic field occurred in the Levant region around 1000 BC, when the field intensity rapidly rose and fell by a factor of 2. No coherent link currently exists between this intensity spike and the global field produced by the core geodynamo. Here we show that the Levantine spike must span >60 degrees longitude at Earth's surface if it originates from the core-mantle boundary (CMB). Several low intensity data are incompatible with this geometric bound, though age uncertainties suggest these data could have sampled the field before the spike emerged. Models that best satisfy energetic and geometric constraints produce CMB spikes 8-22 degrees wide, peaking at O(100) mT. We suggest that the Levantine spike reflects an intense CMB flux patch that grew in place before migrating northwest, contributing to growth of the dipole field. Estimates of Ohmic heating suggest that diffusive processes likely govern the ultimate decay of geomagnetic spikes.

Panovska, S, Constable CG.  2017.  An activity index for geomagnetic paleosecular variation, excursions, and reversals. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 18:1366-1375.   10.1002/2016gc006668   AbstractWebsite

Magnetic indices provide quantitative measures of space weather phenomena that are widely used by researchers in geomagnetism. We introduce an index focused on the internally generated field that can be used to evaluate long term variations or climatology of modern and paleomagnetic secular variation, including geomagnetic excursions, polarity reversals, and changes in reversal rate. The paleosecular variation index, P-i, represents instantaneous or average deviation from a geocentric axial dipole field using normalized ratios of virtual geomagnetic pole colatitude and virtual dipole moment. The activity level of the index, sigma P-i, provides a measure of field stability through the temporal standard deviation of P-i. P-i can be calculated on a global grid from geomagnetic field models to reveal large scale geographic variations in field structure. It can be determined for individual time series, or averaged at local, regional, and global scales to detect long term changes in geomagnetic activity, identify excursions, and transitional field behavior. For recent field models, P-i ranges from less than 0.05 to 0.30. Conventional definitions for geomagnetic excursions are characterized by P-i exceeding 0.5. Strong field intensities are associated with low P-i unless they are accompanied by large deviations from axial dipole field directions. sigma P-i provides a measure of geomagnetic stability that is modulated by the level of PSV or frequency of excursional activity and reversal rate. We demonstrate uses of P-i for paleomagnetic observations and field models and show how it could be used to assess whether numerical simulations of the geodynamo exhibit Earth-like properties.

Panovska, S, Korte M, Finlay CC, Constable CG.  2015.  Limitations in paleomagnetic data and modelling techniques and their impact on Holocene geomagnetic field models. Geophysical Journal International. 202:402-418.   10.1093/gji/ggv137   AbstractWebsite

Characterization of geomagnetic field behaviour on timescales of centuries to millennia is necessary to understand the mechanisms that sustain the geodynamo and drive its evolution. As Holocene paleomagnetic and archeomagnetic data have become more abundant, strategies for regularized inversion of modern field data have been adapted to produce numerous time-varying global field models. We evaluate the effectiveness of several approaches to inversion and data handling, by assessing both global and regional properties of the resulting models. Global Holocene field models cannot resolve Southern hemisphere regional field variations without the use of sediments. A standard data set is used to construct multiple models using two different strategies for relative paleointensity calibration and declination orientation and a selection of starting models in the inversion procedure. When data uncertainties are considered, the results are similar overall regardless of whether we use iterative calibration and reorientation, or co-estimation of the calibration and orientation parameters as part of the inversion procedure. In each case the quality of the starting model used for initial relative paleointensity calibration and declination orientation is crucial and must be based on the best absolute information available. Without adequate initial calibration the morphology of dipole moment variations can be recovered but its absolute value will be correlated with the initial intensity calibrations, an effect that might be mitigated by ensuring an appropriate fit to enough high quality absolute intensity data with low uncertainties. The declination reorientation mainly impacts regional field structure and in the presence of non-zonal fields will result in a non-zero local average. The importance of declination orientation is highlighted by inconsistencies in the West Pacific and Australian sediment records in CALS10k.1b model. Great care must also be taken to assess uncertainties associated with both paleomagnetic and age data and to evaluate the effects of poor data distribution. New consistently allocated uncertainty estimates for sediment paleomagnetic records highlight the importance of adequate uncertainties in the inversion process, as they determine the relative weighting among the data and overall normalized misfit levels which in turn influence the complexity of the inferred field models. Residual distributions suggest that the most appropriate misfit measure is the L-1 norm (minimum absolute deviation) rather than L-2 (least squares), but this seems to have relatively minor impact on the overall results. For future Holocene field modelling we see a need for comprehensive methods to assess uncertainty in individual archeomagnetic data so that these data or models derived from them can be used for reliable initial relative paleointensity calibration and declination orientation in sediments. More work will be needed to assess whether co-estimation or an iterative approach to inversion is more efficient overall. This would be facilitated by realistic and globally consistent data and age uncertainties from the paleomagnetic community.

Davies, CJ, Constable CG.  2014.  Insights from geodynamo simulations into long-term geomagnetic field behaviour. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 404:238-249.   10.1016/j.epsl.2014.07.042   AbstractWebsite

Detailed knowledge of the long-term spatial configuration and temporal variability of the geomagnetic field is lacking because of insufficient data for times prior to 10 ka. We use realisations from suitable numerical simulations to investigate three important questions about stability of the geodynamo process: is the present field representative of the past field; does a time-averaged field actually exist; and, supposing it exists, how long is needed to define such a field. Numerical geodynamo simulations are initially selected to meet existing criteria for morphological similarity to the observed magnetic field. A further criterion is introduced to evaluate similarity of long-term temporal variations. Allowing for reasonable uncertainties in the observations, observed and synthetic axial dipole moment frequency spectra for time series of order a million years in length should be fit by the same power law model. This leads us to identify diffusion time as the appropriate time scaling for such comparisons. In almost all simulations, intervals considered to have good morphological agreement between synthetic and observed field are shorter than those of poor agreement. The time needed to obtain a converged estimate of the time-averaged field was found to be comparable to the length of the simulation, even in non-reversing models, suggesting that periods of stable polarity spanning many magnetic diffusion times are needed to obtain robust estimates of the mean dipole field. Long term field variations are almost entirely attributable to the axial dipole; nonzonal components converge to long-term average values on relatively short timescales (15-20 kyr). In all simulations, the time-averaged spatial power spectrum is characterised by a zigzag pattern as a function of spherical harmonic degree, with relatively higher power in odd degrees than in even degrees. We suggest that long-term spatial characteristics of the observed field may emerge on averaging times that are within reach for the next generation of global time-varying paleomagnetic field models. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Cromwell, G, Tauxe L, Staudigel H, Constable CG, Koppers AAP, Pedersen RB.  2013.  In search of long-term hemispheric asymmetry in the geomagnetic field : Results from high northern latitudes. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 14:3234-3249.   10.1002/ggge.20174   AbstractWebsite

Investigations of the behavior of the geomagnetic field on geological timescales rely on globally distributed data sets from dated lava flows. We present the first suitable data from the Arctic region, comprising 37 paleomagnetic directions from Jan Mayen (71 degrees N, 0.2-461 ka) and Spitsbergen (79 degrees N, 1-9.2 Ma) and five paleointensity results. Dispersion of the Arctic virtual geomagnetic poles over the last 2 Ma (27.34.0 degrees) is significantly lower than that from published Antarctic data sets (32.15.0 degrees). Arctic average virtual axial dipole moment (76.824.3 ZAm(2)) is high in comparison to Antarctica over the same time interval (34.88.2 ZAm(2)), although the data are still too sparse in the Arctic to be definitive. These data support a long-lived hemispheric asymmetry of the magnetic field, contrasting higher, more stable fields in the north with lower average strength and more variable field directions in the south. Such features require significant non-axial-dipole contributions over 10(5)-10(6) years.

Buffett, BA, Ziegler L, Constable CG.  2013.  A stochastic model for palaeomagnetic field variations. Geophysical Journal International. 195:86-97.   10.1093/gji/ggt218   AbstractWebsite

Regeneration of the Earth's magnetic field by convection in the liquid core produces a broad spectrum of time variation. Relative palaeointensity measurements in marine sediments provide a detailed record over the past 2 Myr, but an explicit reconstruction of the underlying dynamics is not feasible. A more practical alternative is to construct a stochastic model from estimates of the virtual axial dipole moment. The deterministic part of the model (drift term) describes time-averaged behaviour, whereas the random part (diffusion term) characterizes complex interactions over convective timescales. We recover estimates of the drift and diffusion terms from the SINT2000 model of Valet et al. and the PADM2M model of Ziegler et al. The results are used in numerical solutions of the Fokker-Planck equation to predict statistical properties of the palaeomagnetic field, including the average rates of magnetic reversals and excursions. A physical interpretation of the stochastic model suggests that the timescale for adjustments in the axial dipole moment is set by the dipole decay time tau(d). We obtain tau(d) = 29 kyr from the stochastic models, which falls within the expected range for the Earth's core. We also predict the amplitude of convective fluctuations in the core, and establish a physical connection to the rates of magnetic reversals and excursions. Chrons lasting longer than 10 Myr are unlikely under present-day conditions. However, long chrons become more likely if the diffusion term is reduced by a factor of 2. Such a change is accomplished by reducing the velocity fluctuations in the core by a factor of root 2, which could be attributed to a shift in the spatial pattern of heat flux from the core or a reduction in the total core heat flow.

Ziegler, LB, Constable CG, Johnson CL, Tauxe L.  2011.  PADM2M: a penalized maximum likelihood model of the 0-2 Ma palaeomagnetic axial dipole moment. Geophysical Journal International. 184:1069-1089.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2010.04905.x   AbstractWebsite

P>We present a new time-varying model for palaeomagnetic axial dipole moment (PADM) for the past 2 Myr and compare it with earlier virtual axial dipole moment (VADM) reconstructions which have been based on stacking and averaging scaled relative palaeointensity records. The PADM is derived from both absolute and relative palaeointensity data and constructed using a new penalized maximum likelihood (PML) approach to recover a cubic B-spline representation of axial-dipole field variations on million year timescales. The PML method is explicitly intended to reduce bias in estimating the true axial dipole moment that arises in average VADM reconstructions. We apply the PML method to a set of 96 032 published data (1800 palaeointensities from igneous rocks, 3300 archaeointensities and 86 relative palaeointensity time-series of variable lengths and resolutions). Two models are discussed: PADM2Mp is a trial model based on a subset of the nine longest available sedimentary records; PADM2M uses a comprehensive data set (76 records, 81 446 data; 10 records were eliminated) and is our preferred model. PADM2M has a lower mean than existing VADM reconstructions but shows similarities in long-period variability. Some differences in timing, amplitude and resolution of certain features can be attributed to variations in age assignments. Others result from our more comprehensive data set and a reduction in bias attributable to PML modelling. PADM2M has an average axial dipole moment over 0-2 Ma of 5.3 x 1022 Am2 with a standard deviation of 1.5 x 1022 Am2. The Brunhes chron average (6.2 x 1022 Am2) is higher than for earlier epochs of Matuyama (4.8 x 1022 Am2), as seen in some previous studies. The power spectrum for our model agrees with previous estimates of the global palaeomagnetic power spectrum for frequencies up to about 102 Myr-1. We see no distinctive evidence in the power spectrum for orbital forcing of geodynamo behaviour.

Korte, M, Constable C, Donadini F, Holme R.  2011.  Reconstructing the Holocene geomagnetic field. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 312:497-505.   10.1016/j.epsl.2011.10.031   AbstractWebsite

Knowledge of the Holocene evolution of Earth's magnetic field is important for understanding geodynamo processes in the core, is necessary for studying long-term solar-terrestrial relationships, and can provide useful age constraints for archeologicaland stratigraphic applications. Continuous time-varying global field models based on archeo- and paleomagnetic data are useful tools in this regard. We use a comprehensive data compilation and recently refined modelling strategies to produce CALS10k.1b, the first time-varying spherical harmonic geomagnetic field model spanning 10 ky. The model is an average obtained from bootstrap sampling to take account of uncertainties in magnetic components and ages in the data (and hence has version number 1b instead of 1). This model shows less spatial and temporal resolution than earlier versions for 0-3 ka, and particularly aims to provide a robust representation of the large-scale field at the core-mantle boundary (CMB). We discuss the geomagnetic dipole evolution and changes in Holocene magnetic field morphology at the CMB as shown by the new reconstruction. The results are compatible with earlier models (CALS3k.3 and CALS3k.4) for 0-3 ka, but reveal some clear deficiencies in the 0-7 ka CALS7K.2 model prior to 3 ka. CALS10k.1b is able to resolve mobile and structurally-evolving high latitude radial field flux lobes at the CMB in both hemispheres, as well as persistent non-zonal structure, in the 10 ky average. Contributions to the average field from time-varying structures in the equatorial Indonesian-Australian region are particularly striking. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Amit, H, Korte M, Aubert J, Constable C, Hulot G.  2011.  The time-dependence of intense archeomagnetic flux patches. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 116   10.1029/2011jb008538   AbstractWebsite

The long-term temporal behavior of intense geomagnetic flux patches at the core-mantle boundary and the relation with lower mantle lateral heterogeneity are under debate. We apply an algorithm to detect centers of intense flux patches and track their time-evolution in a recent archeomagnetic field model in order to study the kinematics of such intense magnetic flux patches on millennial timescale. We find that most intense flux patches appear near the edge of the tangent cylinder. Quasi-stationary periods with small oscillations of patches occur more than drifts. Detailed comparison of the archeomagnetic patches' behavior with that seen in numerical dynamos with tomographic heat flux boundary conditions suggests that core-mantle thermal coupling could be the cause of a statistical preference for some longitudes on the long term, which does not exclude significant time spent away from the preferred longitudes. This could explain the roughly coincident locations of high-latitude patches in the historical geomagnetic field with that of the time-average paleomagnetic field together with the much weaker patches intensity in the latter. Alternating eastward and westward drifts are also observed. The drifts are more westward than eastward, especially in the southern hemisphere, indicating that the time-average zonal core flow may also be driven by core-mantle thermal coupling. An average patch lifetime of similar to 300 years is found, which we hypothesize may indicate the vortex lifetime in the outer core.

Constable, CG.  2011.  Modelling the geomagnetic field from syntheses of paleomagnetic data. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 187:109-117.   10.1016/j.pepi.2011.05.004   AbstractWebsite

This review examines results from time-varying geomagnetic field models that span several thousand years, and from variations in dipole moment strength up to million year time scales. For the past 400 years, twin magnetic flux lobes bordering the inner core tangent cylinder in both northern and southern hemispheres dominate the geomagnetic field and appear more or less fixed in location. In contrast, the millennial scale view shows that such features are quite mobile and subject to morphological changes on time scales of a few centuries to a thousand years, possibly reflecting large scale reorganization of core flow. The lobes rarely venture into the Pacific hemisphere, and average fields over various time scales generally reveal two or three sets of lobes, of diminished amplitude. Thus millennial scale models are suggestive of thermal core-mantle coupling generating a weak bias in the average field rather than a strong inhibition of large scale field changes. The recovery of variations in dipole moment on million year time scales allows frequency domain analyses to search for characteristic time scales for core dynamics that might be associated with excursion and reversal rate, time taken for reversals, or any signs of control by Earth's orbital parameters. The spectrum is characteristically red for the time interval 0-160 Ma, suggesting non-stationarity associated with average reversal rate changes, probably reflecting the impact of superchrons and a continually evolving core. Distinct regimes of power law decay with frequency may reflect different physical processes contributing to the secular variation. Evidence for non-stationarity at shorter time-scales is also present in dipole moment variations over 0-2 Ma with average growth rate faster than the decay process. Rates of change of dipole moment and rapid local field variations found in the paleomagnetic record are evaluated in the context of the 400 year historical record and the spectrum of geomagnetic variations for 0-160 Ma. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Donadini, F, Korte M, Constable C.  2010.  Millennial Variations of the Geomagnetic Field: from Data Recovery to Field Reconstruction. Space Science Reviews. 155:219-246.   10.1007/s11214-010-9662-y   AbstractWebsite

Variations of the geomagnetic field over past millennia can be determined from archeomagnetic data and paleomagnetic sediment records. The resolution and validity of any field reconstruction depends on the reliability of such indirect measurements of past field values. Considerable effort is invested to ensure that the magnetic minerals carrying the ancient magnetization are good, if not ideal, recorders of the magnetic field. This is achieved by performing a wide array of rock magnetic and microscopy investigations, many of which are outlined here. In addition to data quality, the spatial and temporal distributions of archeomagnetic and sediment records play a significant role in the accuracy of past field reconstruction. Global field reconstructions enable studies of dynamic processes in Earth's core. They rely on data compilations which ideally include information about the quality of a measurement and provide a useful archive for selecting data with the best characteristics. There is, however, a trade off between the total number of reliable data and the geographic or temporal coverage. In this review we describe the various types of paleomagnetic recorders, and the kind of measurements that are performed to gather reliable geomagnetic field information. We show which modeling strategies are most suitable, and the main features of the field that can be derived from the resulting models. Finally, we discuss prospects for progress in this kind of research.

Lawrence, KP, Tauxe L, Staudigel H, Constable CG, Koppers A, McIntosh W, Johnson CL.  2009.  Paleomagnetic field properties at high southern latitude. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 10   10.1029/2008gc002072   AbstractWebsite

Statistical analyses of paleomagnetic data from lava flows are used to study geomagnetic field behavior on million year timescales. Previous paleomagnetic studies have lacked high-latitude measurements necessary to investigate the persistence of geomagnetic anomalies observed in the recent and historical field and replicated in some numerical geodynamo simulations. These simulations suggest that reduced convective flow inside the tangent cylinder may affect the magnetic field at high latitude, whereas lower-latitude observations are expressions of columnar/helical flow outside the tangent cylinder. This paper presents new paleointensity and paleodirectional data from 100 volcanic sites in the Erebus Volcanic Province (EVP), Antarctica, and 21 new age determinations by the (40)Ar/(39)Ar incremental heating method. The new EVP data are combined with previously published paleomagnetic and geochronological results, providing 133 sites, 91 having radioisotopic dates. Modified Thellier-Thellier paleointensity estimates are reported for 47 sites (37 have dates). Ages for the combined data set span 0.03 to 13.42 Ma. The 125 high-quality EVP directional data selected from the merged data set have a non-Fisherian distribution and a mean direction with an inclination anomaly of similar to 3 degrees, but 95% confidence limits include the prediction from a geocentric axial dipole. Virtual geomagnetic pole (VGP) dispersions for Brunhes, Matuyama, and the combined 0-5 Ma data set are consistently high compared with values from middle-to low-latitude regions regardless of the criterion used to determine transitional fields. With VGP latitude cut off at 45 degrees, the dispersion (23.9 +/-2.1 degrees) for the combined 0-5 Ma EVP data set is consistent with earlier high-latitude data and paleosecular variation (PSV) in Model G but not with some more recent statistical PSV models. Mean EVP paleointensity of 31.5 +/-2.4 mu T, derived from 41 high-quality sites, is about half the current value at McMurdo (similar to 63 mu T). The result is essentially independent of data selection criteria. High VGP dispersion and low-intensity values support the global observation of anticorrelation between directional variability and field strength. Simulations of time-varying dipole strength show that uneven temporal sampling may bias the mean EVP intensity estimate, but the possibility of persistently anomalous field behavior at high latitude cannot be excluded.

Genevey, A, Gallet Y, Constable CG, Korte M, Hulot G.  2008.  ArcheoInt: An upgraded compilation of geomagnetic field intensity data for the past ten millennia and its application to the recovery of the past dipole moment. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 9   10.1029/2007gc001881   AbstractWebsite

This paper presents a compilation of intensity data covering the past 10 millennia (ArcheoInt). This compilation, which upgrades the one of Korte et al. (2005), contains 3648 data and incorporates additional intensity and directional data sets. A large majority of these data (similar to 87%) were acquired on archeological artifacts, and the remaining similar to 13% correspond to data obtained from volcanic products. The present compilation also includes important metadata for evaluating the intensity data quality and providing a foundation to guide improved selection criteria. We show that similar to 50% of the data set fulfill reasonable reliability standards which take into account the anisotropic nature of most studied objects (potsherds), the stability of the magnetization, and the data dispersion. The temporal and geographical distributions of this sub-data set are similar to those of the main data set, with similar to 72% of the data dated from the past three millennia and similar to 76% obtained from western Eurasia. Approximately half of the selected intensity data are associated with at least an inclination value. To constrain the axial and full dipole evolution over the past three millennia requires that we avoid any overrepresentation of the western Eurasian data. We introduce a first-order regional weighting scheme based on the definition of eight widely distributed regions of 30 degrees width within which the selected data are numerous enough. The regional curves of virtual axial dipole moments (VADM) and of mixed VADM-virtual dipole moments (VDM) averaged over sliding windows of 200 years and 500 years testify for strong contributions from either equatorial dipole or nondipole components. The computation of global VADM and mixed VADM/VDM variation curves, assuming an equal weight for each region, yields a dipole evolution marked by a distinct minimum around 0 B.C./A.D. followed by a maximum around the third-fourth century A. D. A second minimum is present around the eighth century A. D. This variation pattern is compatible with the one deduced from earlier, more sophisticated analysis based on the inversion of both intensity and directional data. In particular, there is a good agreement among all VADMs and dipole moment estimates over the historical period, which further strengthens the validity of our weighting scheme.

Johnson, CL, Constable CG, Tauxe L, Barendregt R, Brown LL, Coe RS, Layer P, Mejia V, Opdyke ND, Singer BS, Staudigel H, Stone DB.  2008.  Recent investigations of the 0-5 Ma geomagnetic field recorded by lava flows. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 9   10.1029/2007gc001696   AbstractWebsite

We present a synthesis of 0 - 5 Ma paleomagnetic directional data collected from 17 different locations under the collaborative Time Averaged geomagnetic Field Initiative ( TAFI). When combined with regional compilations from the northwest United States, the southwest United States, Japan, New Zealand, Hawaii, Mexico, South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, a data set of over 2000 sites with high quality, stable polarity, and declination and inclination measurements is obtained. This is a more than sevenfold increase over similar quality data in the existing Paleosecular Variation of Recent Lavas (PSVRL) data set, and has greatly improved spatial sampling. The new data set spans 78 degrees S to 53 degrees N, and has sufficient temporal and spatial sampling to allow characterization of latitudinal variations in the time-averaged field (TAF) and paleosecular variation (PSV) for the Brunhes and Matuyama chrons, and for the 0 - 5 Ma interval combined. The Brunhes and Matuyama chrons exhibit different TAF geometries, notably smaller departures from a geocentric axial dipole field during the Brunhes, consistent with higher dipole strength observed from paleointensity data. Geographical variations in PSV are also different for the Brunhes and Matuyama. Given the high quality of our data set, polarity asymmetries in PSV and the TAF cannot be attributed to viscous overprints, but suggest different underlying field behavior, perhaps related to the influence of long-lived core-mantle boundary conditions on core flow. PSV, as measured by dispersion of virtual geomagnetic poles, shows less latitudinal variation than predicted by current statistical PSV models, or by previous data sets. In particular, the Brunhes data reported here are compatible with a wide range of models, from those that predict constant dispersion as a function of latitude to those that predict an increase in dispersion with latitude. Discriminating among such models could be helped by increased numbers of low-latitude data and new high northern latitude sites. Tests with other data sets, and with simulations, indicate that some of the latitudinal signature previously observed in VGP dispersion can be attributed to the inclusion of low-quality, insufficiently cleaned data with too few samples per site. Our Matuyama data show a stronger dependence of dispersion on latitude than the Brunhes data. The TAF is examined using the variation of inclination anomaly with latitude. Best fit two- parameter models have axial quadrupole contributions of 2 - 4% of the axial dipole term, and axial octupole contributions of 1 - 5%. Approximately 2% of the octupole signature is likely the result of bias incurred by averaging unit vectors.

Korte, M, Constable CG.  2008.  Spatial and temporal resolution of millennial scale geomagnetic field models. Advances in Space Research. 41:57-69.   10.1016/j.asr.2007.03.094   AbstractWebsite

We assess the resolution and reliability of CALS7xK, a recently developed family of global geomagnetic field models. CALS7xK are derived from archaeo- and palaeomagnetic data and provide a convenient temporally varying spherical harmonic description of field behaviour back to 5000 BC. They can be used for a wide range of studies from gaining a better understanding of the geodynamo in the Earth's core to enabling the efficient determination of the influence of the geomagnetic field on cosmogenic nuclide productions rates. The models are similar in form to those derived from modern satellite observations, observatory and historical data, and used for the International Geomagnetic Reference Field, but their spatial and temporal resolution are limited by data quality and distribution. We find that spatial power is fully resolved only up to spherical harmonic degree 4 and temporal resolution is of the order of 100 years. Significant end effects associated with the temporal development in natural B-splines affect some features of the models in both the earliest and most recent century. Uncertainties in model predictions of declination, inclination and field intensity in general are smaller than 2 degrees and 1.5 mu T respectively, but can be as large as 8 degrees and 5 mu T for certain regions and times. The resolution studies are complemented by a detailed presentation of dipole moment and dipole tilt as predicted by the model CALS7K.2. These largest scale features are resolved more reliably than complex details of the field structure and are useful, for example, in studies of geomagnetic cutoff rigidities of cosmogenic isotopes. (C) 2007 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Jackson, A, Constable CG, Walker MR, Parker RL.  2007.  Models of Earth's main magnetic field incorporating flux and radial vorticity constraints. Geophysical Journal International. 171:133-144.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2007.03526.x   AbstractWebsite

We describe a new technique for implementing the constraints on magnetic fields arising from two hypotheses about the fluid core of the Earth, namely the frozen-flux hypothesis and the hypothesis that the core is in magnetostrophic force balance with negligible leakage of current into the mantle. These hypotheses lead to time-independence of the integrated flux through certain 'null-flux patches' on the core surface, and to time-independence of their radial vorticity. Although the frozen-flux hypothesis has received attention before, constraining the radial vorticity has not previously been attempted. We describe a parametrization and an algorithm for preserving topology of radial magnetic fields at the core surface while allowing morphological changes. The parametrization is a spherical triangle tesselation of the core surface. Topology with respect to a reference model (based on data from the Oersted satellite) is preserved as models at different epochs are perturbed to optimize the fit to the data; the topology preservation is achieved by the imposition of inequality constraints on the model, and the optimization at each iteration is cast as a bounded value least-squares problem. For epochs 2000, 1980, 1945, 1915 and 1882 we are able to produce models of the core field which are consistent with flux and radial vorticity conservation, thus providing no observational evidence for the failure of the underlying assumptions. These models are a step towards the production of models which are optimal for the retrieval of frozen-flux velocity fields at the core surface.

Constable, C, Korte M.  2006.  Is Earth's magnetic field reversing? Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 246:1-16.   10.1016/j.epsl.2006.03.038   AbstractWebsite

Earth's dipole field has been diminishing in strength since the first systematic observations of field intensity were made in the mid nineteenth century. This has led to speculation that the geomagnetic field might now be in the early stages of a reversal. In the longer term context of paleomagnetic observations it is found that for the current reversal rate and expected statistical variability in polarity interval length an interval as long as the ongoing 0.78 Myr Brunhes polarity interval is to be expected with a probability of less than 0.15, and the preferred probability estimates range from 0.06 to 0.08. These rather low odds might be used to infer that the next reversal is overdue, but the assessment is limited by the statistical treatment of reversals as point processes. Recent paleofield observations combined with insights derived from field modeling and numerical geodynamo simulations suggest that a reversal is not imminent. The current value of the dipole moment remains high compared with the average throughout the ongoing 0.78 Myr Brunhes polarity interval; the present rate of change in Earth's dipole strength is not anomalous compared with rates of change for the past 7 kyr; furthermore there is evidence that the field has been stronger on average during the Brunhes than for the past 160 Ma, and that high average field values are associated with longer polarity chrons. There is no evidence from recent millennial scale time-varying paleofield models to indicate that the field is entering a polarity transition. Nevertheless, it remains a reasonable supposition that the magnetic field will eventually reverse even though the time scale is unpredictable. A more immediate concern is that ongoing secular variation in the magnetic field may be expected to moderate the current high dipole strength on centennial to millennial time scales: it would not be surprising if it dropped substantially, returning closer to the average without necessarily reversing. This could have important consequences for space weather, and also highlights the need for improved understanding of the impact of geomagnetic field strength on the production rates of cosmogenic isotopes that are used to estimate past solar variability. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Constable, C, Johnson C.  2005.  A paleomagnetic power spectrum. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 153:61-73.   10.1016/j.pepi.2005.03.015   AbstractWebsite

We construct a power spectrum of geomagnetic dipole moment variations or their proxies that spans the period range from some tens of million down to about 100 years. Empirical estimates of the spectrum are derived from the magnetostratigraphic time scale, from marine sediment relative paleointensity records, and from a time varying paleomagnetic field model for the past 7 kyr. The spectrum has the most power at long periods, reflecting the influence of geomagnetic reversals and in general decreases with increasing frequency (decreasing period). The empirical spectrum is compared with predictions from simple models. Discrepancies between the observed and predicted spectra are discussed in the context of: (i) changes in reversal rate, (ii) overall average reversal rate, (iii) cryptochrons, (iv) the time taken for a reversal to occur, and (v) long term paleosecular variations and average estimates of the field strength and variance from other sources. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Korte, M, Constable C.  2003.  Continuous global geomagnetic field models for the past 3000 years. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 140:73-89.   10.1016/j.pepi.2003.07.013   AbstractWebsite

Several global geomagnetic field models exist for recent decades, but due to limited data availability models for several centuries to millennia are rare. We present a continuous spherical harmonic model for almost 3 millennia from 1000 B.C. to 1800 A.D., based on a dataset of directional archaeo- and paleomagnetic data and axial dipole constraints. The model, named Continuous Archaeomagnetic and Lake Sediment Geomagnetic Model for the last 3k years (CALS3K.1), can be used to predict both the field and secular variation. Comparisons and tests with synthetic data lead to the conclusion that CALS3K.1 gives a good general, large-scale representation of the geomagnetic field, but lacks small-scale structure due to the limited resolution of the sparse dataset. In future applications the model can be used for comparisons with additional, new data for that time span. For better resolved regions, the agreement of data with CALS3K.1 will provide an idea about the general compatibility of the data with the field and secular variation in that region of the world. For poorly covered regions and time intervals we hope to iteratively improve the model by comparisons with and inclusion of new data. Animations and additional snapshot plots of model predictions as well as the model coefficients and a FORTRAN code to evaluate them for any time can be accessed under The whole package is also stored in the Earthref digital archive at (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Love, JJ, Constable CG.  2003.  Gaussian statistics for palaeomagnetic vectors. Geophysical Journal International. 152:515-565.   10.1046/j.1365-246X.2003.01858.x   AbstractWebsite

With the aim of treating the statistics of palaeomagnetic directions and intensities jointly and consistently, we represent the mean and the variance of palaeomagnetic vectors, at a particular site and of a particular polarity, by a probability density function in a Cartesian three-space of orthogonal magnetic-field components consisting of a single (unimodal) non-zero mean, spherically-symmetrical (isotropic) Gaussian function. For palaeomagnetic data of mixed polarities, we consider a bimodal distribution consisting of a pair of such symmetrical Gaussian functions, with equal, but opposite, means and equal variances. For both the Gaussian and bi-Gaussian distributions, and in the spherical three-space of intensity, inclination, and declination, we obtain analytical expressions for the marginal density functions, the cumulative distributions, and the expected values and variances for each spherical coordinate (including the angle with respect to the axis of symmetry of the distributions). The mathematical expressions for the intensity and off-axis angle are closed-form and especially manageable, with the intensity distribution being Rayleigh-Rician. In the limit of small relative vectorial dispersion, the Gaussian (bi-Gaussian) directional distribution approaches a Fisher (Bingham) distribution and the intensity distribution approaches a normal distribution. In the opposite limit of large relative vectorial dispersion, the directional distributions approach a spherically-uniform distribution and the intensity distribution approaches a Maxwell distribution. We quantify biases in estimating the properties of the vector field resulting from the use of simple arithmetic averages, such as estimates of the intensity or the inclination of the mean vector, or the variances of these quantities. With the statistical framework developed here and using the maximum-likelihood method, which gives unbiased estimates in the limit of large data numbers, we demonstrate how to formulate the inverse problem, and how to estimate the mean and variance of the magnetic vector field, even when the data consist of mixed combinations of directions and intensities. We examine palaeomagnetic secular-variation data from Hawaii and Reunion, and although these two sites are on almost opposite latitudes, we find significant differences in the mean vector and differences in the local vectorial variances, with the Hawaiian data being particularly anisotropic. These observations are inconsistent with a description of the mean field as being a simple geocentric axial dipole and with secular variation being statistically symmetrical with respect to reflection through the equatorial plane. Finally, our analysis of palaeomagnetic acquisition data from the 1960 Kilauea flow in Hawaii and the Holocene Xitle flow in Mexico, is consistent with the widely held suspicion that directional data are more accurate than intensity data.

McMillan, DG, Constable CG, Parker RL.  2002.  Limitations on stratigraphic analyses due to incomplete age control and their relevance to sedimentary paleomagnetism. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 201:509-523.   10.1016/s0012-821x(02)00747-1   AbstractWebsite

A major limitation in the analysis of physical quantities measured from a stratigraphic core is incomplete knowledge of the depth to age relationship for the core. Records derived from diverse locations are often compared or combined to construct records that represent a global signal. Time series analysis of individual or combined records is commonly employed to seek quasi-periodic components or characterize the timescales of relevant physical processes. Assumptions that are frequently made in the approximation of depth to age relationships can have a dramatic and harmful effect on the spectral content of records from stratigraphic cores. A common procedure for estimating ages in a set of samples from a stratigraphic core is to assign, based on complementary data, the ages at a number of depths (tie points) and then assume a uniform accumulation rate between the tie points. Imprecisely dated or misidentified tie points and naturally varying accumulation rates give rise to discrepancies between the inferred and the actual ages of a sample. We develop a statistical model for age uncertainties in stratigraphic cores that treats the true, but in practice unknown, ages of core samples as random variables. For inaccuracies in the ages of tie points, we draw the error from a zero-mean normal distribution. For a variable accumulation rate, we require the actual ages of a sequence of samples to be monotonically increasing and the age errors to have the form of a Brownian bridge. That is, the errors are zero at the tie points. The actual ages are modeled by integrating a piecewise constant, randomly varying accumulation rate. In each case, our analysis yields closed form expressions for the expected value and variance of resulting errors in age at any depth in the core. By Monte Carlo simulation with plausible parameters, we find that age errors across a paleomagnetic record due to misdated tie points are likely of the same order as the tie point discrepancies. Those due to accumulation rate variations can be as large as 30 kyr, but are probably less than 10 kyr. We provide a method by which error estimates like these can be made for similar stratigraphic dating problems and apply our statistical model to an idealized marine sedimentary paleomagnetic record. Both types of errors severely degrade the spectral content of the inferred record. We quantify these effects using realistic tie point ages, their uncertainties and depositional parameters. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

McMillan, DG, Constable CG, Parker RL, Glatzmaier GA.  2001.  A statistical analysis of magnetic fields from some geodynamo simulations. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. AbstractWebsite

We present a statistical analysis of magnetic fields simulated by the Glatzmaier-Roberts dynamically consistent dynamo model. For four simulations with distinct boundary conditions, means, standard deviations, and probability functions permit an evaluation based on existing statistical paleosecular variation (PSV) models. Although none closely fits the statistical PSV models in all respects, some simulations display characteristics of the statistical PSV models in individual tests. We also find that nonzonal field statistics do not necessarily reflect heat flow conditions at the core-mantle boundary. Multitaper estimates of power and coherence spectra allow analysis of time series of single, or groups of, spherical harmonic coefficients representing the magnetic fields of the dynamo simulations outside the core. Sliding window analyses of both power and coherence spectra from two of the simulations show that a 100 kyr averaging time is necessary to realize stationary statistics of their nondipole fields and that a length of 350 kyr is not long enough to full characterize their dipole fields. Spectral analysis provides new insight into the behavior and interaction of the dominant components of the simulated magnetic fields, the axial dipole and quadrupole. Although we find spectral similarities between several reversals, there is no evidence of signatures that can be conclusively associated with reversals or excursions. We test suggestions that during reversals there is increased coupling between groups of spherical harmonic components. Despite evidence of coupling between antisymmetric and symmetric spherical harmonics in one simulation, we conclude that it is rare and not directly linked to reversals. In contrast to the reversal model of R. T. Merrill and P. L. McFadden, we demonstrate that the geomagnetic power in the dipole part of the dynamo simulations is either relatively constant or fluctuates synchronously with that of the nondipole part and that coupling between antisymmetric and symmetric components occurs when the geomagnetic power is high.

Constable, CG, Johnson CL.  1999.  Anisotropic paleosecular variation models: implications for geomagnetic field observables. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 115:35-51.   10.1016/s0031-9201(99)00065-5   AbstractWebsite

We present a family of statistical models for paleosecular variation (PSV) of the geomagnetic field that are compatible with paleodirectional and paleointensity variations in lava flows sampling the last 5 Ma, and explore what paleomagnetic observables might be used to discriminate among the various family members. We distinguish statistical models with axial anisotropy, which provide a suitable description for an earth with homogeneous boundary conditions at the core-mantle interface from those with more general anisotropy corresponding to geographically heterogeneous boundary conditions. The models revise and extend earlier ones, which are themselves descendants of CP88, devised by Constable and Parker [Constable, C.G., Parker, R.L., 1988. Statistics of the geomagnetic secular variation for the past 5 m.y. J. Geophys, Res. 93, 11569-11581]. In CP88, secular variation is described by statistical variability of each Gauss coefficient in a spherical harmonic description of the geomagnetic field, with each coefficient treated as a normally distributed random variable: the Gauss coefficients of the non-dipole part of the field exhibit isotropic variability, and the variances are derived from the present field spatial power spectrum. The dipole terms have a special status in CP88, with a non-zero mean for the axial-dipole, and lower variance than predicted from the spatial power spectrum. All non-dipole terms have zero mean except the axial-quadrupole. CP88 is untenable for two reasons: it fails to predict the observed geographic dependence of directional variability in the magnetic field, and it grossly underpredicts the variance in paleointensity data. The new models incorporate large variance in the axial-dipole, and in the non-axial-quadrupole Gauss coefficients, g1/2: and h1/2:. The resulting variance in paleomagnetic observables depends only on latitude (zonal models), unless the variance in h1/2: is different from that in g1/2 (non-zonal models). Non-zonal (longitudinal) variations in PSV, such as the flux lobes seen in the historical magnetic field, are simulated using the non-zonal models. Both the zonal and non-zonal models fit summary statistics of the present dataset. We investigate the influence of persistent non-zonal influences in PSV on various paleomagnetic observables. It is shown that virtual geomagnetic pole (VGP) dispersion is rather insensitive to longitudinal variations in structure of PSV, and that inclination dispersion has the potential to be more informative given the right site distribution. There is also the possibility of using paleointensity and geographic variations in the frequency of occurrence of excursional directions to identify appropriate PSV models. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Johnson, CL, Constable CG.  1997.  The time-averaged geomagnetic field: global and regional biases for 0-5 Ma. Geophysical Journal International. 131:643-+.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.1997.tb06604.x   AbstractWebsite

Palaeodirectional data from lava flows and marine sediments provide information about the long-term structure and variability in the geomagnetic held. We present a detailed analysis of the internal consistency and reliability of global compilations of sediment and lava-flow data. Time-averaged field models are constructed for normal and reverse polarity periods for the past 5 Ma, using the combined data sets. Non-zonal models are required to satisfy the lava-flow data, but not those from sediments alone. This is in part because the sediment data are much noisier than those from lavas, but is also a consequence of the site distributions and the way that inclination data sample the geomagnetic field generated in the Earth's core. Different average held configurations for normal and reverse polarity periods are consistent with the palaeomagnetic directions; however, the differences are insignificant relative to the uncertainty in the average field models. Thus previous inferences of non-antipodal normal and reverse polarity field geometries will need to be re-examined using recently collected high-quality palaeomagnetic data. Our new models indicate that current global sediment and lava-flow data sets combined do not permit the unambiguous detection of northern hemisphere flux lobes in the 0-5 Ma time-averaged field, highlighting the need for the collection of additional high-latitude palaeomagnetic data. Anomalous time-averaged held structure is seen in the Pacific hemisphere centred just south of Hawaii. The location of the anomaly coincides with heterogeneities in the lower mantle inferred from seismological data. The seismic observations can be partly explained by lateral temperature variations; however, they also suggest the presence of lateral compositional variations and/or the presence of partial melt. The role of such heterogeneities in influencing the geomagnetic held observed at the Earth's surface remains an unresolved issue, requiring higher-resolution time-averaged geomagnetic field models, along with the integration of future results from seismology, mineral physics and numerical simulations.

Johnson, CL, Constable CG.  1996.  Palaeosecular variation recorded by lava flows over the past five million years. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series a-Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences. 354:89-141.   10.1098/rsta.1996.0004   AbstractWebsite

We present a new global palaeomagnetic database, comprising lava flows and thin intrusive bodies, suitable for studying palaeosecular variation and the time-averaged field. The database is presented in some detail in the appendix and is available oil-line from the authors. We review palaeosecular variation models to date, emphasizing the assumptions required and the rather arbitrary construction of many of these models, Preliminary studies of the statistical properties of the new database suggest that existing palaeosecular variation models are inadequate to explain the long-term temporal variations in the field. It is increasingly apparent that data distribution and duality are pivotal in determining the characteristics of the secular variation. The work presented here demonstrates the need for revised models of the time-averaged field structure for both normal and reverse polarities before reliable models for palaeosecular variation can be made.